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Pavlov's Dog - Pampered Menial CD (album) cover

PAMPERED MENIAL

Pavlov's Dog

 

Crossover Prog

4.11 | 248 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
1 stars No, Pampered Menial is not remotely progressive rock. With the exception of occasional tidbits from a few tracks and the 99 seconds of sheer progressive rock glory (the amazing and thankfully wordless piece "Preludin"), this is a dull pop-rock album fronted by a banshee. Yes, David Surkamp sounds very much like a young Geddy Lee, if only a tad goofier at times, but the excessive warbling and shrieking on the part of the former just makes me cringe. Still, he alone does not justify my overall verdict regarding this album. As I mentioned, the compositions are mostly mainstream rock tracks, several of which are riddled with lyrical clichés and rather wearying riffs. The Mellotron adds a delicate texture to otherwise generic rock music, as do the other unconventional instruments, but in spite of a few consolatory solos, none of it is enough to keep the album interesting.

"Julia" It is strange, I think, for a hard rock band to begin not just an album but a career with a quiet and trite love song like this. Musically, it's a decent affair, but it doesn't help that the refrain is a tired and whiny cliché: "And I can't live without your love." The flute and acoustic guitar passage is fine, but overall I don't consider this a strong start at all.

"Late November" The main guitar theme, coupled with the Mellotron is probably how this album should have begun. This is a decent straightforward light rock song with two good solos in the middle.

"Song Dance" That thick, grandiose opening with Mellotron and guitar reminds me of the introduction to "White Room" by Cream. Piano and strings form a psychedelic passage to the song proper, which is a heavy rock number. The piano soloing is excellent and unexpected in the context of the song. However, the vocals this time around are nearly intolerable though- just warbling and ear-piercing.

"Fast Gun" While the chord progression may be an overused one, the string runs are fantastic. The vocals are not as horrible as they were on the previous track, but here, they just don't fit the tone of the music at all.

"Natchez Trace" Following a gorgeous fifteen second symphonic introduction, a grating electric guitar riff takes over, and soon it becomes a substandard boogie-woogie rock and roll tune. As usual, the soloing is lively and a grand display of musicianship; sadly this time it's cut off and practically ruined by a bloodcurdling shriek from Surkamp.

"Theme from Subway Sue" Although this is yet another forgettable rock song, the Mellotron adds a lovely backing sound and the lead guitar work isn't bad at all.

"Episode" Gorgeous violin, gentle piano, and light guitar serve as the initial foundation for this song. The violin is by far the sweetest aspect of the piece. The song as a whole sounds like good proto-prog most of the time- it is definitely one of the best on the album.

"Preludin" Now this is a shining moment of progressive rock- and by moment, I mean just that, since this piece is a mere 99 seconds. This is a fascinating and highly complex instrumental, showcasing what Pavlov's Dog was capable of but sadly never expressed at large here.

"Of Once and Future Kings" The final track has the makings of a decent progressive rock song, but it is extremely disjointed and unpleasant in many places. The vocals a minute-and-a-half in are utterly terrible. Overall, there's too many different and distinct sections in this song, and they all lack appropriate transitions. In spite of that, "Of Once and Future Kings" is comparatively speaking one of the stronger and at least more interesting tracks present.

Epignosis | 1/5 |

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